GF Ferre chocolate bar.

Every time someone says “GF Ferre”, I imagine super skinny men and women with chiseled jawlines strutting their stuff down a ramp somewhere at the Dubai Design District. The last thing I can think of is food. There is in fact an emotion of immense regret that takes over. I feel guilty for the last meal I had. My mind calculates the number of calories consumed on that day while simultaneously trying to figure out the number of meals I would have to skip to balance my impulsive eating habits.

That seldom happens though. I don’t skip too many meals. I just eat whenever and whatever I want to. As long as I make sure I don’t hear the names GF Ferre, Roberto Cavalli or Georgio Armani anywhere close to meal times, I am ok. All of these brands that remind me of super skinny people and make me feel accountable for every calorie I consume, also operate restaurants in Dubai. Ironic, is it not?

So now you know how I feel about dining at a restaurant that shares its name with a fashion label. That is precisely the reason I never stopped at the GF Ferre chocolate bar, despite secretly admiring its sunlit location at the MOE Fashion Avenue every time I passed by. I did always wonder why they added the word ‘chocolate’ to the name though. It kind of made it sound like an oxymoron. GF Ferre Bar might have worked better. No?

As if, accepting the fact that the fashion types actually ate at all wasn’t enough; having to process the fact that they ate chocolate confused me even more. It got to a point where I could hold it in no more and last Friday, I decided to stop by at this place to find out exactly what went on in there.

First of all, let me assure you that there were no fashion models inside. Mostly regular folks like you and me, trying to squeeze in a quick lunch between their shopping or just weighing in on Kanye West’s newfound love for Donald Trump over a bottomless mug of coffee. A part of me may have been slightly disappointed for not being able to spot any fashion types but I was mostly relieved. This was just another Friday in just another Dubai café.

Next, we had what could have been your average pasta with sautéed chicken, mushrooms and creamy white sauce but it was not. I could immediately taste the distinct Parmigiano Reggiano flavour. It takes at least 24 months to make this cheese. This long period of maturity and the special diet that the cows are fed on give this cheese its unmistakable aroma and flavour. This meant that work on this Penne Alfredo started at least 2 years ago. Let that sink in for a while. Now, let me tell you that it was almost worth the wait.

The Hell Boy was definitely one of the better-looking beef burgers I have ever seen. Part of it was due to the red beetroot sesame bun but part of it was due to the fact that it was so darn cute! It had a double beef patty, topped with caramelized onions and smothered with old fashioned American cheese. Taste wise, it was pretty good but not good enough to make my BEST 11 BURGERS IN DUBAI list and let’s just leave it at that.

Now that guilt I spoke about earlier was starting to set in so I decided to order a salad too. I realized later that the trick to eating like models was to order the salad instead of the main course and not in spite of the main course. I was really glad I ordered it anyway because it ended up being my favourite dish of the day. The Oganic Quinoa with Grilled Chicken had a unique flavour which I could attribute later to the sumac and chives. The feta added a creamy texture while the hazelnuts and pomegranate added a well needed crunch whenever it was needed. It also had grilled onions, baby spinach and the most amazing pickled beetroot to wrap it all up with a tangy aftertaste. If this is what fashion models ate, sign me up please!

The Banofee milkshake was almost as would be expected but I think I tasted some Lotus biscuit in there somewhere. Cheeky move, right? The Passion Fruit Mojito was made of muddled lime, ginger and fresh mint mixed with passion fruit bits and ice, which was then topped with sparkling water. The ginger was what made this drink work but I did wish they had added a bit more passion fruit in there. It was also quite limited in quantity but I figured that’s how much fashion models are supposed to consume so I pretended to be really happy with it. Next time, I may just stick to the diet coke.

So, my final thoughts are that yes maybe fashion brands can operate restaurants and perhaps their natural creativity may help them in coming up with some brilliant dishes at times. They are probably a lot better at making salads then they are at making burgers but when they do make a burger, it will be like an edible work of art. I also realized that fashion types don’t necessarily starve themselves to lose weight…..and neither should you.

Peyote. The Sauve Mexican

Guest Review by Marina Wilhelmsson.

Peyote is the name of a cactus that has no thorns, has a wonderful pink flower and has been known to be used as a drug. Maybe that is what made me choose it? 😉

Let me start off with the location. For me it was a bit of a surprise to learn that a financial district (DIFC) has both great views, fabulous art galleries and great restaurants. Just passing by, it looks like any dull corporate centre with tall office buildings and a sleek facade. But then you get inside and experience the wow-effect. Stairways, bridges between buildings, fountains, art galleries and palm trees. I had decided to go to Peyote but once I got there I could have picked any number of great sounding restaurants.

Peyote is a cool place and the interior matches the vibe. The staff is nice and there was even time for some chitchat with them on a slow Saturday afternoon. Suave is a word that comes to mind. Sophisticated, smooth, elegant and with an air of urban attitude. The sign above the bar says ”Tequila is cheaper than therapy”, so with this in mind I let the waiter seat me and bring the menu.

Sign in bar

If you pair the right wine with the right kind of food, it is like a symphony in your mouth and will make your taste buds swirl. When it comes to Mexican food, the right kind of alcohol is of course tequila and the signature drink is a margarita. Peyote has a range of different margaritas and I chose the ”Mothers day Margarita”, which is a standard margarita with a shot of red wine. Ay caramba! There was a whole mariachi band playing La Cucaracha in my mouth! The drink was just as good as it looks and paired perfectly with the food. Bear in mind, nothing cools down the heat from a habanero as well as tequila. Or is it the lime? Anyway….for those who do not drink alcohol i can say only this – eat more chips. Don’t drink water 😉

Margarita 2 (2) (1)

First plate of food is a complimentary cuatro of sauces with home made tortilla chips. There was a sweet and smoky sauce, an aioli, a tart green sauce and of course the hot as hell habanero sauce. The waiter was kind enough to warn me about it and he did so with a gentle smile. I thanked him and luckily came through the experience with only a mild burn! Trust me, the habanero is NOT to be played with. It has a kick that is awesome. It burns and stings but it also makes you want to eat more. Loco!

just a drop of habanero

Next dish was the green Ceviche with lime, cilantro, cucumber, halibut and radish. It came in at exactly the right moment to cool down the burn from the habanero. You get quite a small bowl of it, but it is just enough. The lime and cilantro make the fish stand out and the tiny pieces of cucumber and radish just add that extra dimension of crunch. If you are going to have just one dish, it must be a ceviche!

Third dish was sweet jalapeno fritters with an aioli dip. I just love fried peppers and pimientos padron and this is a take on that but with a twist. The jalapenos were just mildly hot and they were sweet, crunchy and warm. It was impossible to stop eating and especially when you have a margarita to go with it. It was so good that the dipping aioli was quite unnecessary, but it was good in it self. It had a hint of smoke which was really nice. I think it would have been perfect with ordinary fries.

Jalapeno fritters

Fourth dish was of course TACOS! There are different types of tacos on the menu and you can mix and match your plate. I chose one with meat and one with fish. The fish taco was a grilled sea bass with salsa verde, pickled red onions and a big heap of cilantro. Perfectly grilled fish with salsa verde is of course one of the best things you can eat and if you stuff it in a soft warm tortilla it’s even better. There was absolutely nothing that you could add to that taco to make it better. The meat taco was a slow braised beef short rib with salsa verde and cilantro. The meat was so tender that it fell apart just by looking at it and the flavour was just soft and sweet. I think it lacked a pinch of salt or maybe a drop (just one!) of the habanero sauce, but otherwise it was a bit of perfection.

tacos

Fifth dish came in as a complimentary one. I was surprised and already full, but I think the waiter told the kitchen about the crazy woman eating, taking photos, writing stuff down and smiling all to herself and they decided to give me more. In came a huge plate with quesadillas! The filling was a nice heap of mushrooms and cheese and salad. I was already stuffed and had no appetite for more but I had to try it. Maybe all the other dishes spoiled my taste buds already or maybe the mariachi band had taken a nap, but I felt like the quesadilla was quite bland. Mushrooms don’t taste much and the cheese was not salty enough. This is probably a dish that you should eat before any of the others or maybe as a single main course with a cold beer or a glass of white wine, it didn’t pair well with the last drops of my margarita. Just too bad that it came in last.

quesadilla

The dessert menu was very tempting, like who can say no to churros, but the five courses had me down and I needed another walk. I said no to dessert, although my sweet waiter tried to sweet talk me into some sweets (sweet I know), and I felt proud of mysef. You should leave when you are on top! So maybe next time I will try the churros because I am going back for more soon!

Peyote Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato